These are more of the questions from my friend J. Hopefully there are some insights into my process, but like I tell him – these work for me, and not necessarily for everyone. If they work for you, feel free to borrow.
Have you developed any characters that you feel especially close to, or any that you feel you could use over and over, as in a series or something?
Mattie from “My Brother the Dog” is a favorite. My editor and I have considered making that book into a series, and I think I could do that. Her brother Donny, the one who acts like a dog, is really fun, too. Eventually, though, they’d have to grow up, and I don’t think he would act that way at age 5 (he’s 4 in the first book).
Of the characters you’ve developed, which one do you feel was your weakest and why?
I had a great start to a book called “Hailey Marie Flunks Charm School” that I took off running with. I was 85 pages in when I discovered – much to my horror – that I had very little plot, and that there were other characters far more compelling than Hailey. It was a traumatic lesson in the price of the lack of planning. I don’t ever dive into a project that I haven’t created a character sketch for each of the main characters, and plot outline for the entire story. Hailey had an interesting concept, but she wasn’t a realistic character – she had no real life to her.
If, in order to be a writer, you had to first write something sleazy like Penthouse Letters or something for a few years, would you do it?
I wrote a lot of weird stuff before I got published professionally. I wrote for a free publication that tried to be like Reader’s Digest, I wrote for various online companies (including City Search), and I wrote for a bizarre publication called “69 Flavors of Paranoia” that literally looked like a bunch of 19-year-olds printed it off in their basement. If I had to do it to survive, yes – I would. I’ve done worse.
What are your top ten favorite words of all time?
Wow – that’s like naming my favorite authors or my favorite books. However, some of my favorites include:
Do you remember what the first book you ever read was?
I remember my mom reading Doctor Seuss to me, and the first one of those I could read on my own was “One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” – but the first “book” I read was “Betsy Tacy” and then “Betsy Tacy and Tib” – really old-school stuff (as in your grandmother probably read them). But I adored them, and they were something I could show off about because they were longer books than any of my friends were reading.
These questions have caused me to take a much deeper, closer look at my own writing process, and I am finding that I am reconnecting with elements I’d lost touch with for a while. More to come soon!